Jennifer Helm is a paper crafter from Taneytown.
“I was always fond of coloring. I took art classes at Francis Scott Key High School,” she said, noting she also helped painting sets for the theatre department. “I enjoyed theater and being part of a group.”
After graduating from Carroll Community College in 1996, she took a rubber stamping class at the Quilt Patch in Littlestown, Pennsylvania, with her mother.
“That got me hooked,” Helm said. “I fell in love with creating something beautiful on paper. I liked making cards. I dabbled in beading and cross-stitching but always came back to the stamping. My mother followed the quilting and knitting path. I followed paper crafting.”
My father is a stained glass craftsperson, so artistic talent runs in my family.
When Helm had four children, her crafting was put on hold.
“I got back into it six years ago. I needed an outlet being busy with the children. Crafting was my therapy,” she said.
She started looking at it more as a business than a hobby. Helm participated in local craft shows and vendor events. Helm has participated in the St. Joseph Catholic Church Christmas bazaar and school event fundraisers. She also offers workshops where she teaches people to make cards. Normally held in person, Helm had to switch her workshops to a virtual format due to the pandemic.
Helm makes cards for every occasion and all the holidays. Each card is special because it is a handcrafted work of art. Some cards are 3D. She enjoys using different techniques such as ink blending and heat embossing. She uses blending brushes or sponges with different colors of ink to decorate the cards. Helm also uses water color pencils and alcohol markers.
According to Helm, heat embossing is when you use a special type of ink to stamp on the card. Then a special powder is sprinkled over the design. When heated, there is a chemical reaction that creates a raised impression. Her 15-year-old daughter Callie likes to make cards with her.
Helm takes card commissions. “If someone has a special request I come up with a unique card. People call and ask me for special birthday cards. I also do cards for weddings and baby shower invitations,” Helm said.
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She also makes handcrafted boxes and treat holders. Helm makes little paper purses for treats, party favors, small cards and stocking stuffers.
To make a box, Helm uses die cuts. She runs card stock or printed paper through a die cut machine. The machine cuts the box out and she assembles it. The boxes are glued or taped together. The boxes are two to four inches in size. She also makes miniature milk crates and berry baskets.
Helm likes to make a variety of cards.
“I even have pet sympathy cards. The most popular cards are birthday cards, get well cards and sympathy cards,” she said.
Helm has been selling her paper crafts at the Union Bridge gift shop since July. “It has been a blessing since I have not been able to do other craft fairs,” Helm said.
“I enjoy making the hand crafted cards,” Helm said. “I love hearing that when someone gives a card to someone as a gift, the person receiving the card appreciates the thought that went into making it. People are more likely to keep a handmade card than one purchased from a store.”